The 7th of December the yearly drum and bass awards took place in Brixton. Many of us stood there, trying to let the streaming work and yelling at the laptop because it wasn’t. Some others of us probably didn’t even make it to watch the live streaming and thus googled the results the very next day discovering that no one took care to report them until afternoon. The website of drum and bass arena did, but late and didn’t really advertise that a lot. Finally, some others instead didn’t even know that such awards existed.
To see the original website, click here. You’ll never believe how it ends…
Regardless of which category you belong to, here is a little fact: drum and bass is growing year by year, and as every thing that grows, it soon requires awards to give a prize to the most valuable knights of the realm, to create positive competition, a general aiming higher for everyone, that always helps in increasing the overall quality of the scene’s products. This year was the 10th year of such awards, which saw winners take even more than one prize. Noisia won the prize for best video (Mantra), best album (Outer Edges) and best producers. DRS won the prize for best MC and also for best vocalist. Other non surprising victories have been the one of Andy C as best DJ, while very interesting has been the victory of Break as the critic’s choice, which is a panel of 50 experts that give a well-balanced, non-gut-felt preference. What this post is about is telling you something about everyone that won. Who they are, where do they come from, what’s up with them, and some musical hints.
Best DJ: Andy C
Andrew John Clarke has probably been the most influent person in Drum & Bass so far. I’m saying this without any doubt, because the man has started in 1989 when Drum & Bass wasn’t really a thing yet. Being a pioneer of a musical genre means being an explorer, trying to grasp the appreciation and the groove of an audience which is not grown yet on what they’re about to hear. That said, Andy C is also the co-founder of RAM Records, which even if recently has been a little too monothematic in our opinion, is and has been the most influent label on the drum & bass planet (I’m writing this article with a RAM Records T-Shirt on, just saying). Despite this monumental introduction, Andy C is no high-throughput producer. His releases are actually fewer than you’d expect, and most of them are singles. One, especially, has been an anthem of some years ago: Heartbeat Loud.
As a DJ, though, Andrew delighted as many audiences as are there in the world of Drum & Bass with explosive sets. Remarkable has been one of the most recent ones, in Vegas, where the sound system was literally in flames after some 20 minutes. Literally. Andy C is probably the most famous Drum & Bass DJ in the world, and this prize is no surprise because he is probably also the best. He started in the far eighties, bringing up the sound of the jungle music which was rapidly developing in Great Britain. With people like Randall, Goldie and other big names they changed this scene forever, and forever may they be blessed for that.
Best producers, best video, best album: Noisia
If you don’t know Noisia you can go home easy. They changed the drum and bass music taste and production more than any of the producers out there. The trio from Groningen (Netherlands) has been able to put out some of the most massive releases that ever existed in Neurofunk, and they don’t look like they’re gonna chill soon. This year, they dropped Outer Edges, a new studio album full of drumstep, drum and bass and some future bass. Sound design is as always cutting edge and most of the cases trend setting, as the motto says: First Never Follows. Their previous studio album has been Split the Atom (2011) and in between the two albums they released a bunch of singles and two EPs: Imperial and Purpose. What characterizes Noisia is originality: you often hear sounds, build ups and drops, ideas and melodies that you’ll hear in the next two years from the vast majority of producers. It’s a gift to be the ones that set the trend, and they use it very wisely. The gods of drum and bass just claimed their rightful prize(s).
Nik Roos, Martijn van Sonderen and Thijs de Vlieger produced many different musical styles, ranging from Neurofunk to Future Bass through Hip Hop and other many shades of music. One particularly prolific experience of them has been the connection with the britain-based rap group Foreign Beggars, in a project called I Am Legion.
Yeah, this song is lit as fuck.
Noisia are my favourite producers. I literally started my thing with drum & bass with them, I still remember when I listened to Block Control in 2005. That track changed my view of electronic music forever, which before was the view of a music dominated by the market and by the illiterate users. Noisia, with their visceral composing attitude and their trend setting sound, represent to me everything that I believe music should be. They started in 2003 with their first release Tomahawk which was done together with Mayhem and released with Mayhem’s label Shadow Law. Among their most famous tracks I personally would like to mention also Tryhard, which was part of the Imperial EP (2012), Running Blind (Purpose EP, 2014) and Vigilantes (Outer Edges, 2016). However, since they won the best video award as well, I want to share it with you. Be careful, the video can touch parts of your heart that you might not know. The stories of the migrants that leave places where war has tore apart everything and come to a hostile Europe, that rejects them and tries to send them back as they were defected objects bought on Amazon is something we all have to think a little about. We have everything, and we can give a little of what is ours to make room here for another human being. Here is the video of Mantra.
Best MC, best vocalist: DRS
Here’s one that not everyone knows. Even if Del Rok Ski is a legend of Drum & Bass in UK, he’s not in the whole world. Born rapper, he’s one true experimenter in the music styles. Listening to his own releases, one can hear trapstyle, drum & bass, bass music in general and classic hip hop. When being master of ceremony, transforms into a true wordsmith dancing on the complex rhythms that this musical style has to offer. Very few rappers are able to cope with this complexity, and he is considered, properly, the best of them. For over 15 years he’s been hosting events, rapping and building complex lines, always under the strength of his motto Be yourself, aim high. What I consider very interesting is that he won both the prize for best MC and for best vocalist, which is a much variegated prize considering all the singers that could have won it. When someone wins two prizes, means that they’re truly deserved. For a little taste of the skills of Delroy Pottinger, aka DRS, you can check his track Count to Ten (feat. the russian drum & bass prince Enei) or this live extract where he hosts a DJ set from Lenzman with some serious skills.
Best newcomer: Signal
We uploaded a song from Signal some time ago on our YouTube channel: Elle. The song is truly deep and dark, with soulful basslines that glue together with drums and a repetitive yet never boring leading sound. This is what Signal is good at: producing innovative tracks. He’s not extremely famous yet, and started being one of the Drum & Bass adults only in the last couple of years, but is truly an artist to follow. Funny was the post on twitter after he won the prize. Not the one exactly after, but the one 40 minutes after…
been 40 minutes since i won the award and still no hot girls in my dms this is useless
— signal (@jonathansignal) 7 dicembre 2016
He already owns a digital label (Fumei) and has a lot of plans going on. Coming from a very small town near Rotterdam (NL), he kind of made a very short and quick street to arrive where is now. This prize is the confirmation of his talent, and we surely will support him along the way. Talented! (here’s an idea of where he comes from)
Best label: Hospital Records
Does Tony Colman ring a bell in your head? Does London Elektricity, if not Tony Colman? Well, we’re talking about the same person so it should. Tony is the founder, together with Chris Goss, of Hospital Records in 1996. The label has been releasing some of the most influent drum and bass and liquid in the last years, and this year probably won the whole ball game with three of the best albums that Drum & Bass has witnessed in recent months: Metrik’s new album LIFE/THRILLS, which is truly a masterpiece and sold a very lot of copies, Fred V & Grafix’s new LP Oxygen (which I voted as best album at the awards, no shame), and Netsky’s new album III (anything else?). Hospital Records, and its event Hospitality, are a very big reality in the Drum and Bass community, and this prize confirms it. Moreover, their talent scouting label Med School puts out good releases every month, being the perfect school for future talents.
Hospital records started in 1996 from the minds of Tony Colman and Chris Goss. This is the second time that they win this prize (it happened also in 2011), and personally I think it’s one of my favourite music realities. Always sounding fresh, always proposing high level music which leaves room for breathing and doesn’t keep things neither too dark nor too easy. This year, my favourite albums have been Oxygen (Fred V & Grafix), Outer Edges (Noisia), III (Netsky), Life/Thrills (Metrik) and Better Perspective (Technimatic): 3 of them come from Hospital Records! Not to mention that London Elektricity (Tony Colman) is actually one of my favourite artists and his album Yikes! from 2011 is one of my all time favs. As a matter of fact, I would like to gift you with one of the tracks of that album that represent it most, which is Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm (feat. Elsa Esmeralda) but I won’t. Since they won the best label this year also, I will upload one track from this year. Have a good time listening to Metrik’s Penggemar!
Best newcomer label: MethLab
We said that in recent times: MethLab is becoming a monster in Drum & Bass, mostly Neurofunk. Release after release, the level raises like the waters of the seas when the night comes. Their recent releases have been received very happily by us, as one can see here in this collection of articles about MethLab releases on our blog:
With this CV, and with Eatbrain being now one of the big boys, there was very few room for error in assigning this prize: who is growing more this year as a label? Simple: MethLab. The label started around 2010 and begain releasing cutting-edge-sounding songs that quickly made it through the charts. Last year they teamed up for a project with Bad Taste Recordings, an already established Drum & Bass label, for a project that clearly helped MethLab in gaining consensus. Now they’re quickly becoming a renowned name in the scene, and the future is bright. If you want to check out some of their material consider listening to this one:
Best track: Mefjus – Suicide Bassline VIP
A VIP is a track which is remixed by the original artist, giving insights on what would the artist do if he had the chance to remake a song, or also on what could have been an alternative ending for it. Maybe the artist had two ideas and decided for one: a VIP is the other one. I always liked this idea of making an artist remake his own songs. Martin Schober (his real name) is an austrian Drum & Bass producer from Linz which became famous around 2012 when he also won the Best Newcomer Artist prize that this year has been assigned to Signal.
Had such a good time at Let it Roll this year! Full recording of my set coming soon <3 pic.twitter.com/gbshlolQZd
— MEFJUS (@martinmefjus) 3. August 2016
Signed to Critical Music, aka one of the most famous labels in the world together with RAM Records, Viper Recordings, Eatbrain and Hospital Records (just to name 4, there are plenty more), Mefjus is one of those artists that you see in the flyers of the best events, the ones with the biggest name on the flyer. His recent releases are all sounding big, and we have no shame in admitting that he is one of the artists to follow for the next years. Plus, when your VIP of your own track wins this prize, means that you had the time to release a banger (like Suicide Bassline), to get famous with it, and finally to remix it. He may not have been one of those that have 20 years of experience and credibility that precedes him wherever he goes, but his music is always above average and being in the drum & bass jet-set in so few years is just remarkable. Wir wunschen dir einen schönen Karriere, Martin!
Best remix: Children of Zeus feat. DRS – Still Standing (Lenzman remix)
If DRS didn’t win this category, one of his songs made it. The remixer, Lenzman, is a dutch liquid producer that has been releasing cool stuff since about 10 years. With a genre like Drum & Bass, it’s easy to spot the famous ones, because they have a wikipedia page and usually a bio that you can find online. Soulful, Melancholic, Undiluted are the words with which he describes himself on his facebook page, and I couldn’t agree more. I personally like his music very much and use his tracks in my mixes very often. His only released LP Looking at the stars (2014) released with Metalheadz was particularly well received by the critics, and the rest of his career is full of singles and EPs, at least 1 or 2 per year, excluding the remixes. His music makes usually great use of jazz sounds, samples and atmospheres. If you want a glimpse of his style you might want to check out Wordsworth which we used also in one of our mixes of the month (which you can find here), a dj set of him is available at the DRS section of this article (above). This prize, instead, comes from this track:
Best club night: Fabriclive
What Fabric means to the whole drum & bass community is undescribable. The craziest nights took place there, many of the most famous artists remember their best DJ set being at Fabric, most of the biggest DJs actually have a residency at fabric. FABRICLIVE is one of the events that fabric organizes, which takes place every last Friday of each month. In this event, many of those that you probably listen to and consider the kings of the scene have a slot. Just to name a few of the regular performers (and I quote their website): Alix Perez, Annix, Barely Legal, Calyx & TeeBee, Chase & Status, Congo Natty, David Rodigan, DBridge, Dillinja, DJ Hype, DubPhizix & Strategy, Elijah & Skilliam, Erol Alkan, Fabio, Friction, Goldie, Groove Armada, Hatcha, Hazard, High Contrast, Jackmaster, JME, Kasra, Kode9, Loadstar, Loefah, LTJ Bukem, Logan Sama, Marcus Intalex, Marky, My Nu Leng, Netsky, Newham Generals, Plastician, P Money, Redlight, Rockwell, S.P.Y, Scratch Perverts, Simian Mobile Disco, Skepta, Skream, SubFocus, Tom Shorterz & many more. I’m not sure if I should continue with the list, I think it’s enough.
Recently, Fabric has been discovered by the whole musical world because of its forced closure by the Islington council after some drug related problem that unfortunately involved the death of two teenagers in few months. This article gives some explanation:
Apart from judging this decision, which has been taken very critically by the drum & bass community, we have room for a statement. Drugs are, for many people, fun and crazy times. Even if illegal, the drug selling industry is rather unstoppable and you won’t find it more than in places where people actually go for fun. However, we believe that the clubs that host these events have no fault when something like this happens, unless there is strong evidence of bad controls at the entrance, which luckily has not been the case. In fact, under the hashtag #savefabric, many people screamed loudly to attract attention on this. As a matter of fact, Fabric has now been re-opened. Who better than them to win this title!
— fabriclondon (@fabriclondon) 6 dicembre 2016
Fabric has been voted among the top clubs in the world rather always in the last 10 years. Opened in 1999, it honored 17 years continuously before the issue that brought to the – luckily just temporary – closure. One fun fact is the floor: one room of the club is equipped with a floor-soundsystem: apart from the usual speakers, the floor is loaded with 400 bass transmitters that make it vibrate with the bass. An extreme experience, named bodysonic. Who wouldn’t like to be there? The oddity of this video will teach you what the bodysonic is:
Best festival: Let It Roll
Let it Roll is an institution. Being held in the airfield of Milovice (Czech Republic), the festival gathers together the most famous drum & bass artists of the world in one of the countries that have one of the biggest drum & bass scenes in the world. Drum & Bass is huge between Prague, Vienna and Bratislava, forming a triangle of nations that keeps this vibe going quite heavily. Storm club, UHU, Subclub, Flex, Fluc+FlucWanne, Arena, Re:Fresh, just to name a few of the venues that propose Drum & Bass as main course in these 3 cities.
Let it Roll started in 2003 as a series of club events. This is interestingly the beginning of another story, the one of Blackout Records, the (NL) Utrecht-based neurofunk night that transformed like a butterfly into a big well-known label all over the world. Let it Roll kept it clubwise until 2008, probably that was the time they realized that space wasn’t enough in the club and they had to catalyze the attention of all those people into a big open-air festival. The first year moved 3,000 people, last year it moved 20,000 of them. The Milovice location is just recent: in the previous years they’ve been holding this festival in other places of Czech Republic, but now it seems that the monster has found its home. With un-comparable line ups, comprehensive experiences and provided accomodations at an affordable price (for a festival), Let it Roll is one of those experiences that you have to try once if you like Drum & Bass. Just don’t get coked up please, otherwise it’s gonna be like fabric and we’ll have to start the #saveLIR hashtag which I truly don’t want to start. We had enough of brainless people!
The prize assigned to LiR, honestly, is no surprise, since it’s the third year in a row. This festival has no rivals in the world, and established a legacy that will ensure that Drum & Bass heads will have a place to gather at every year. The usually hold a double event in Summer and Winter, most likely in two different locations, with the Winter one being a little smaller. If you’re now considering to go next year, click here! Otherwise, just enjoy this video of the opening ceremony of this year, which is actually lit as fuck.
New add-on in Hall of Fame: Randall
The Drum & Bass Hall of Fame has a new member! All hail the huge, immense, big and massive DJ Randall. He is considered, by Andy C, the most influential artist in his career. Considering Andy C won the Best DJ Prize this year and is the founder of one of the biggest labels in the Drum & Bass scene, we cannot consider Randall anything else than a sort of God. In this mix, he goes through the history of Jungle Music for Mixmag, this mix is truly an experience for young DNB heads!
Andy C and Randall collaborated sometimes, for example with the track Sound Control (1994, Ram Records). This track is part of the sancta sanctorum of each junglist who wants to be considered one. This man has been influential for many more people, and back in the early 90s it was easy to see flyers of events reporting Andy C, Randall and Goldie playing at the same venue, with the first two preparing the ground for the last one. WTF! For us, this would just be a dream. If you want to read more about Randall, follow the white rabbit into this very detailed and insightful interview that he made for UKF.
Critic’s choice: Break
We’re now at the last one: Break. This artist is the father of Symmetry Recordings, which this year marks its 10th birthday. We’re not talking about a round-sounding name that everyone knows, this because Break has always kept a low profile and showed results of hard work instead of being a billboard king. Recently, a video of him enjoying a pre-event in Italy was very funny to see, as he was all gassed up in front of a pizza together with Neve, the brain behind the rising star The Dreamers Recordings (a very interesting italian reality!). Laying down the first cornerstone of his career in 2003, Break has been producing constantly since then, being a very prolific artist. This prize has awarded a fully deserving artist, which you truly should follow if you never did.
Interestingly, Symmetry Recordings has been releasing solely material from Break itself for 5 years, until in 2011 it broadened horizons to other people. The very high-shelf collaborations that Break put on in some of his tracks tell us something about why he won this prize: because he ain’t no cheap producer, he might not be acclaimed as the mastermind behind everything that’s cool in the Drum & Bass world, but competent critics acclaimed him as a remarkable producer that deserves a prize. Here it is buddy!
If you guys are now curious about this voting system and this event in general, you might as well notice that the website and the material for the 2017 edition are already online. You can already vote and state your preferences at this link. They don’t waste time!